Planning meetings are seldom glamorous. Calendars are a must. Events and projects will get listed. Names of potential volunteers are floated. To-do lists grow. If all goes as designed, everyone goes home with their share of tasks to complete. Planning meetings are a necessary part of the life of any organization—business, nonprofit, or church. We’ve all been part of planning sessions, some productive, some perfunctory, and others fruitless. I don’t know about you, but just writing those sentences make me tired!
My response may have something to do with those “planning for planning’s sake” meeting I’ve been a part of, when everyone there is already overtaxed, and the last thing they want to do is add to their workload. People leave such meetings with their shoulders sagging and their hearts heavy. It’s a recipe for burnout and disappointment.
Planning sessions don’t have to be that way. With focus, intentionality, a wee bit of flexibility, and a whole lot of grace, folks with a common purpose can come together to map out their next steps, breathe new life into ongoing projects, and imagine new endeavors. Productive planning starts with knowing the groups core values and using those values to design and evaluate the work of the group.
I’ve spent much of my time this past year listening, paying attention to stories of what you’ve done as a congregation, what you miss, what you hope for. It’s been a challenge in a pandemic, and I hope to have many more conversations to come. One of the things I’ve been listening for are what the core values of this congregation are. Sometimes those values are explicitly named, other times they show up as common threads in activities and projects in which people are invested. Every church community is different.
Here’s a start at what I’m learning about FCC Morehead, in no particular order.
- Communion is central to your identity—not a surprise for Disciples! Communion centers you individually and is a powerful ritual connecting you with others.
- Compassion You take seriously Christ’s call to care for the least of these—particularly children, vulnerable seniors, and low-income families. This compassion is lived out in annual outreach projects and in your responses to issues of social injustice.
- Education You value education, you see the need for and benefit of good public education for everyone. You also understand the importance of education for spiritual formation and faith development.
- Beauty You appreciate the role of beauty in our lives and how the arts inspire and nurture faith.
- Creation Individuals in the congregation are committed to caring for the earth in their personal practices and the congregation is growing in its understanding of our role together as stewards of creation.
- Hospitality You understand the welcome you have experienced at the communion table is a welcome we are called to extend to all, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, nationality, socio-economic status, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, mental or physical capacity.
- Community You enjoy one another! You miss getting together regularly and you welcome opportunities to connect.
- History As one of the founding churches in Morehead, you recognize the importance of being rooted in this place, of knowing and sharing the stories of the region, and of understanding how the past influences our present day.
- Practicality You want to know what you do makes a difference. Only a practical congregation could proclaim it’s “Undie Sunday”!
What do you think of it? Any thing you would add?
Which ones do you think are core values of our congregation?
Any questions about how I see these values in our congregational life?
When a congregation is clear about its values, we can focus the planning process. Planning sessions can take on new life, as we evaluate, dream, and design our activities through the lens of our core values.
In a few weeks FCC ministry leaders and volunteers will come together for an annual planning workshop. We’ll focus on our values and how what we choose to focus on in the coming year reflects those priorities. I invite all of you, whether you’re a part of that planning meeting or not, to pray for our work. May the Spirit guide us as we seek to be faithful to God’s call for us here and now.
With Christ’s grace and peace,